Miles Simon: My Transition From Coaching To Broadcasting
It’s easy now to forget Arizona’s magical run to the 1997 national title almost never happened. The fourth-seeded Wildcats actually found themselves down 10 points with 7:30 remaining in a first round game against South Alabama.
That’s when junior guard Miles Simon took over. He put the team on his back, scoring nine of his 11 points during the final stretch for a come-from-behind win. Simon averaged 24.4 PPG the rest of the tournament and capped it off in the title game with 30 points during an overtime thriller vs. Kentucky to earn Most Outstanding Player honors.
Simon bounced around in the CBA and overseas for nearly a decade before tearing his ACL for the second time. He returned to Tucson in 2005 as an assistant under Lute Olson in 2005. But just last season, Simon was unceremoniously dumped by his alma mater.
Now almost a year later, Simon has relocated to Los Angeles, where we caught up to talk about his new career path, his upcoming nuptials and that headline-inducing last name.
Lost Lettermen: What are you up to these days? Are you trying to get back into coaching?
Miles Simon: I’ve been broadcasting for ESPN this year, so that’s been a really good thing for me.
LL: Is that where your career is headed?
MS: I’m going to go with what is the best opportunity for me. I love coaching. I love being around the kids. And I’ve enjoyed broadcasting also.
LL: What do you do when you’re not broadcasting?
MS: I usually help out with some personal training and personal coaching with some local kids in the area I live. I live in Redondo Beach – I live in L.A. basically.
LL: Have you started a family yet?
MS: I have a daughter and a fiancé. I’m getting married this summer.
LL: There were a lot of rumors after you were let go as an Arizona assistant. Did you leave on good terms?
MS: Yeah, everything’s fine.
LL: How tough has it been to watch Arizona this year with everything that’s gone on?
MS: I’ve just been watching in-and-out because I’ve been really busy but I just want those kids to do very well because they’ve been put in a tough position, and I really root for them - for Chase and Nate Johnson and Jordan Hill and Nic Wise and all the guys - I root for them to do the best they can and get through the year and be as successful as possible.
LL: How about the Final Four?
MS: I’ve just been watching in-and-out because I’ve been really busy but I just want those kids to do very well because they’ve been put in a tough position, and I really root for them – for Chase and Nate Johnson and Jordan Hill and Nic Wise and all the guys – I root for them to do the best they can and get through the year and be as successful as possible.
LL: Going back to the ’97 Tournament. What were you saying to each other when you’re down 10 to South Alabama in the second half of the first round?
MS: From what I remember, we were never that nervous or panicked about losing that game. We just knew we didn’t want to go out in the first round. I just think we stepped up our play and they made a couple mistakes that allowed us to go on a big run to take the lead.
LL: What pre-Final Four memory sticks out the most for you?
MS: I remember the Kansas game and just kind of how focused we were. No one was giving us a chance to beat Kansas because they were the unanimous No. 1. I remember the newspaper in Birmingham saying something like, “Kansas and the three others.” Some kind of headline like that. That basically they were the only team there and no one had a chance, and how personal we took that.
LL: So did you have an “Us against the World” attitude?
MS: I don’t think we took it as that. I think we took it as, “We can play with anybody and we just have to go out and prove it.” We didn’t feel like we were an underdog to any team because we were very talented.
LL: You scored 30 points in the Championship game and were named the Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. How were you able to play the game of your life on the biggest stage?
MS: It’s weird, I’ve played a lot of basketball games and I’ve never really felt pressure. I played big games in high school, a lot of important games in college. The bigger the game for me, the better I was going to perform. I always prided myself on being a big game player and always performing in an important game.
LL: How long do you think it took Billy Packer to come up with the much-maligned line, “Simon says… championship!”?
MS: I thought it was cool. It’s a saying obviously I’ve heard since I was a little kid – “Simon says” whatever. It’s a lasting say so it is kind of synonymous with the NCAA Tournament when they are showing the highlights. So I think it’s kind of cool.